By Emma Matthews of UTP Group
People are often motivated to set up a business to live their passion or to find financial freedom away from the constraints of a 9-5 job that they hate. However, once established, far too many businesses stay small when they have the potential to expand and create a legacy in the market and for their founder’s family.
While keeping a business as a small side hustle may be the right answer for some entrepreneurs, for those that have the ambition, there are many ways to grow and scale your business successfully. Here are our top tips.
Know your competition
Make sure that you always have your finger on the pulse of what is happening in the market for your product or service and that you have a differentiating factor such as better quality, better service or unique features.
Make decisions for the long-term
It’s easy in the early days of a business to make quick-fire decisions to make money. If you want to create a company that scales over time and creates a legacy, then you need to consider what impact today’s decision will have on the future. For example, a little white lie told to a customer today may secure you some business, but what is the long-term cost of that on the business’s reputation?
Many of the businesses that we see thriving for the long-term have sound values such as putting the customer first and operating with integrity. Their values provide a lens for decision-making.
Profits not revenue
Don’t be fooled into thinking that your sales revenue and profits are the same thing. As you grow expenses mustn’t cancel out increased sales. Make sure that your planned activities will bring in more revenue than they will cost you.
Scale and automate
You have to be careful not to build in lots of additional fixed costs as you grow, especially if the increased revenue is not stable.
One way to minimise the risks is to focus on products and services that are easily scalable and that have sales processes you can automate. For example, in the world of online education, many companies offer online programmes that learners can complete at their own pace.
Once the course has launched the number of learners typically depends on the amount the company spends on advertising and how effective that advertising is. There are few additional costs attached with scaling.
Compare this to a business that creates furniture. Here additional demand may necessitate hiring more people, bigger premises and buying more materials. However, they could find a way to automate more of the manufacturing process through machinery once they are confident they will achieve a return on the investment.
Some of the most successful businesses have scalable sales funnels which take prospects through a learning experience about the company and product and build trust to the stage that often the client is happy to pay without speaking to an employee.
Learn from the best
Learn from someone who has achieved the success that you would like to replicate. You’ll have the benefit of learning from the mistakes without the risks.
This learning experience can be achieved by investing in mentoring programmes or having a more informal mentoring relationship or even consuming content online or via a book.
Build the right team
As you grow, you will likely need to hire some contractors or employees. Recruit people who share the same values as you do, who are enthusiastic about your business, and who have the skills to generate a positive return for the salary or fees you pay for them.
It can be hard to delegate in your own business, through fear of someone not doing the job as well as you do. However, unless you give your team the autonomy to run with their roles, then you will not get the most value from their skills.
Easy customer payments
Customers expect payments for goods and services to be fast and painless. If you have a physical presence for your business, make sure that you have a countertop card machine ready to take payments, or if you move location frequently, then consider a mobile card machine. Contactless is particularly convenient for lower-cost purchases.
For your online presence, consider an eCommerce Payment Gateway, to enable your customers to make quick and secure payments.
Encourage customer loyalty
It takes far more effort and resources to secure a new customer than to sell more products or services to an existing one. Spend time nurturing your customers and ensuring they are satisfied with the service you offer.
Depending on the nature of your business, you could give loyalty points or discounts for repeat purchases. You could create a community of your best customers and provide them with news and offers about your company before anyone else, in the hope that they will become ambassadors of your brand.
Sometimes opportunities will come your way at short notice that need funding. If you don’t have a significant cash reserve to call on, consider a flexible credit facility such as a cash advance from your payment solutions provider.
Conclusion: growth comes from strong values and a long-term focus
For entrepreneurs with the ambition, there are so many ways to grow your business successfully. First, you must start with the right foundations; namely, a company built on a good idea, with strong values and a long-term perspective.
Know your competition, be sure to focus on profits over revenue, have flexible access to cash such as a cash advance and find ways to automate as you scale. As an entrepreneur, learn from people who have successfully trodden the path before you and find the right talent to work on your team.
Your happy customers will become your most influential ambassadors. Make it easy for them to pay you via a card machine or an eCommerce Payment Gateway and always look for ways to deepen